There can only be bun.

Steamed buns, manju in Japanese, are a staple of Japanese convenience store food. They’re essentially balls of dough filled with meat, curry, or anything else that you could conceivably consume.

But a certain kind of steamed bun may look somewhat confusing at first sight: the “pizza-bun.” In Japanese they’re called piza-man, and they’re not as strange as they might seem. They’re just cheese, tomato sauce, and then sometimes toppings cooked inside a delicious steamed bun. Think of it like a soft calzone you eat with your hands.

▼ And at only 130 yen (US$1.15) a pop,
they’re just as easy on the wallet as they are on the soul.

Of course if you’re going to indulge in such a treat, it’s important to know which convenience store sells the best pizza-buns. You don’t want to spend your hardworking yen on a sub-par pizza-bun experience.

That’s where our experienced taste-testing Japanese reporter P.K. Sanjun comes in! As a self-proclaimed expert on buns of all sorts, he volunteered to be our Scientist of Succulence.

▼  Let’s give a hand to this man, willing to donate his taste buds
to further humanity’s research on pizza-bun perfection.

P.K. hit up the four big names when it comes to convenience stores in Japan: Lawson, 7-Eleven, Family Mart, and Mini Stop. 

Whose pizza-buns are the best? Here’s his definitive ranking:

#4. 7-Eleven (128 yen)

In a competition between four stores, someone has to come in fourth. That’s not to say that 7-Eleven’s pizza-buns are bad, they just didn’t quite stack up to the rest.

P.K. felt like the best part about the 7-Eleven pizza-buns was the cheese. There was a lot of it, a good amount in every bite, but unfortunately that’s pretty much all he got. It felt like the bun was relying on the cheese too much, using it as a sort of dairy crutch.

Also it should be pointed out that 7-Eleven was the only one to stamp “pizza” on their bun, as if to remind you that yes, you are eating a pizza-bun, not just cheese-filled bread.

All in all, certainly tasty, and fine in a pinch, but there are better options available.

#3. Mini Stop (128 yen)

The Mini Stop bun had a much lighter flavor, but its super soft and delicious dough made up for it. Rather than focusing on one extreme like the 7-Eleven one, this gave a more well-rounded experience.

Unfortunately, like most well-rounded things, it didn’t have a lot that particularly made it stand out. Neither great nor terrible, the Mini Stop pizza-bun was a perfectly serviceable snack.

#2. Lawson (130 yen)

Hoo boy, now we’re getting to the big boys! A whole two yen more expensive than its previous competitors, you certainly get what you pay for with the Lawson pizza-bun.

This baby packs a punch. More than just a bunch of cheese and dough like the others, this one actually feels like you’re eating pizza. It’s like a fresh-from-the-oven pizza-punch to the face… in a good way.

While the other two were fine as a snack, P.K. was confident in saying that Lawson’s bun could work just as well as a meal on its own.

▼ High praise for sure for Lawson,
but one pizza-bun was even better….

#1. Family Mart (130 yen)

The president of pizza-buns, the chancellor of cheese, the secretary of sauce, all here in the form of a Family Mart pizza-bun.

What makes the Family Mart pizza-bun so good is its extra-generous helping of cheese. Just biting into it made it gush out like a waterfall!

But unlike the 7-Eleven bun, the Family Mart one doesn’t rely on the cheese as a crutch; the sauce is just as good too. While the other convenience stores all tasted like “pizza-bun sauce,” only Family Mart’s tasted like actual “tomato sauce.” It was fresh and harmonized perfectly with the pizza bun for a taste that couldn’t be beat.

▼ All hail the king of convenience store pizza-buns, Family Mart!

So there you have it, the pizza-buns from the top four Japanese convenience stores all ranked. What do you think? Do you agree with P.K.’s decision, or do you have some choice words for his tastes?

Either way, apparently eating steamed buns is a great way to somehow stay cool in the heat, so let’s enjoy these last few days of summer by heading out to Family Mart!

Images: ©SoraNews24
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